Call trick

Print edition : January 24, 2014
A full-time team of four, 20-something youngsters, assisted by a group of volunteers, steered the AAP's spectacular online journey in their Delhi 2013 mission, christened “Delhi calling”. Now it is time for mission “LS 2014”.

FIRST it was “Call Delhi”, now it is time for “Call India”. The stupendous success that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) achieved in the Delhi Assembly elections would not have been possible but for its social media and IT team. The technology-savvy group of four pesky youngsters, who were of course assisted by a horde of volunteers, attained a feat that well-entrenched parties such as the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could only dream of. They reached 25 lakh people across Delhi through phone calls which were made by people living across the globe, exhorting them to vote for the AAP.

Using a technology called “call patching”, the team made people call voters in Delhi from anywhere in the world. The trick worked, and soon people in Delhi were getting calls from total strangers across the world who were campaigning for the AAP. This was something which fascinated even not-so-young voters, who were thrilled to become part of this unprecedented experiment. The party’s website had a phone number that was connected to a cloud server. Once somebody called on this number, he would further be connected to the phone number of a voter from the 25-lakh-plus database. The number was operational on 100 lines simultaneously, meaning 100 people could simultaneously be talking to 100 voters using one single number. Now this was something which was working for Delhi only, which meant seven parliamentary seats. If the AAP enters the Lok Sabha fray in a big way, what possibly could be the strategy?

“We are working out details which we cannot reveal at the moment. But one thing I can assure you is that what we are planning to do is something so big that bigger parties like the Congress and the BJP will be taken by surprise,” says Ankit Lal, the 29-year-old social media and IT head of the group of four. Ankit, a computer science graduate from Hindustan Institute of Technology in Greater Noida, was taking a job break to improve on his GRE grades when India Against Corruption exploded on the country’s political landscape and he, like many other youngsters, jumped in, in April 2011.

About the team’s plan for the Lok Sabha elections, all Ankit would disclose was that it had been named “LS 2014”. State and district teams are being put in place to man the entire operation. A prelude to what lies ahead was seen on January 1 when one of the team members was struck with the bright idea of asking for online donations of Rs.2,014 towards mission “LS 2014”. In no time, donations started pouring in and by the end of the day, Rs.39 lakh had already come in. Having found his calling in the AAP, Ankit says his next challenge is to gather as many volunteers as possible.